This site is all about getting started in sewing. Develop your own style, and sew it up!
Get sewing tips you want via Twitter, Facebook and RSS -- see icons above!
We do not share your information. Period.
Get in touch
We're also on Twitter, Facebook and RSS. Click the icons at the top!
At SewingStarter.com, giving back is one part of getting creative. We’re proud to contribute to the National 4-H Council in 2012. Over seven million kids take part in 4-H programs. Every U.S. county has a 4-H club, many with programs to encourage children to design and complete projects, whether from fiber or electronics. That has special interest for us creative types — dreaming big, planning, designing, and making creative projects are what we hope to inspire at SewingStarter.com!
Whether it’s participating in robotics programs, or sewing something special for the county fair, 4-H clubs help kids get creative to solve problems. 4-H is keeping kids empowering kids with problem-solving skills and the initiative to see their work to completion. National 4-H Council is a top-rated, trustworthy 501(c)3 nonprofit. Since its mission is to develop 4-H youth for positive change, by shopping at SewingStarter.com, you help contribute to this important work.
Photo: Youth in Wake County, NC use Geographic Information Systems to survey the nutrition content of foods in their area for Advocates for Health in Action. Video: National 4-H Council and story: Advocates for Health in Action
There’s no rule that you have to give gifts that say “Made in China.” Say “You’re Special to Me” by sewing up simple gifts. Our collection of free patterns are a great start. See what you can get going and get giving! Out of time or energy? Consider a gift certificate.
Bags, Purses, Things to Carry
Hand sanitizing/baby wipes carrier (Exclusive to SewingStarter.com)
Water Bottle Cozy (Martha Stewart)
Reusable Grocery Bag (D. Prakash)
Ladies’ A-line skirt (Martha Stewart)
Girls’ Shirtdress (Martha Stewart)
Ladies’ Plus-Size Top (McCall’s)
SuperEasy! Cozy Arm Warmers (Martha Stewart)
Pants for Toddler (Exclusive to SewingStarter.com)
Around the House and For Pets
Tasty Treat Appliques (Everyday Handmade)
Catnip Fishing Pole (Martha Stewart)
Holiday Stockings (McCall’s)
Menswear mice cat toys (Martha Stewart)
Chair-Side Remote and Magazine Caddy (McCall’s)
We believe getting started in sewing shouldn’t be expensive. You don’t know whether your interests will lead you to garment sewing, or to quilting, or to crafts. But every sewer uses the same basic set of tools on every project. One of those basic tools is the seam ripper, which takes out the mistakes stitches that all sewers make at some point.
This week we’re impressed with the prices at CreateForLess.com, where seam rippers range anywhere from $1.99 for a small travel-size seam ripper, up to to $6.79 for large and stylish ergonomic seam ripper. The same products cost more at your local store.CreateForLess.com offers free shipping for some orders.
Click the link below to check out their prices! Other sewing tool recommendations.
Summer has arrived! Celebrate the season with simple patterns that expand your wardrobe! Here’s a sampling of Simplicity dresses and skirts that are easy to sew and easy to fit. We’re a big fan of Simplicity patterns generally, because they feature timeless patterns with time-tested instructions. Remember that your fabric choices make all the difference in your look, so there’s no need for complicated patterns. If you want to master the art of making garments from a patterns, the Simplicity line offers great options. The patterns we’re featuring here meet our guidelines for maximum enjoyment and minimum frustration! For instance, most styles have only few pattern pieces to cut out. See our article on how to choose easy sewing patterns.
Fitting tip: There’s nothing more frustrating than cutting out a pattern to discover that it won’t fit you! So for beginners, we recommend that instead of using the standard 5/8″ seam allowance at the side seams, extend your fabric cut 1/2″ more to 1″. Wider seam allowances mean you’ll have a little more “wiggle room” to customize the fit for your unique figure! Later on you’ll learn more pattern-fitting tips, but for now keep it simple.
From Simplicity’s Summer Pattern line, we recommend Simplicity 1807, a flowing skirt (and shorts and pants too!) and Simplicity 1812 skirts with cool hem variations. Look for them at at Simplicity Summer 2012 Patterns.
Then there’s Simplicity’s Spring Pattern line, and we recommend the Simplicity 2004 tunic and Simplicity 1965 and 1996 which are skirts — one is fitted and other is full. All three are SewSimple patterns, which cost only $1.99 and are simple to make. See the Simplicity Spring 2012 line.
There are also some great choices for girls. From the Summer line, there’s Simplicity 1816 skirt (sizes 3-14). From the Spring line, the following will sew up fast: Simplicity 1837 skirt (sizes 7-16) and Simplicity 1836 dress (sizes 3-6). Click the links in Misses above to get to them.
Didn’t see a style you like? See See all Simplicity patterns. Happy sewing!
We’ve added a new free sewing pattern to our list. There’s no rule saying your laptop cover has to say “Made in China.” You can make your own! Measure your laptop computer or tablet and make this snazzy Tablet Sleeve. SewNews Magazine has provided a free flap closure pattern. Follow these steps from SewingStarter.com — the steps are similar to making a pillow form:
- Measure your laptop length (L) and width (W). Add 2″ to each measurement. Measure your laptop’s depth. Add that measurement to the width measurement. Cut 2 pieces to these measurements from fleece or wool.
- Before cutting out the flap pattern, make sure it ends at least 1.5″ from the bottom. If not, adjust the free flap pattern after you print it. Cut two from a coordinating preshrunk cotton, and cut one from a polyester batting. Position one flap right side up. Position another flap on top of it, wrong side up. Lay the batting on top of the wrong side flap layer. Pin and stitch on three sides, using 1/2″ seam allowances and leaving the top edge unstitched. Trim the seam allowance and clip into curves to allow easy turning. Turn inside out and press.
- “Quilt” a pattern onto each sleeve piece before you sew them together. Use a temporary marker to draw lines and then stitch over the lines.
- Position the two sleeve pieces so that one is 1 1/2″ inch above the other. This will make it easier to slide the laptop in and out of the sleeve. Pin and stitch from the point where the two edges align, using 1/2″ seam allowances and being sure to backstitch at beginning and end for stretch. The result is an envelope.
- Pin and stitch the right side of the flap to the right side of the sleeve 1/4″ from the raw edge. Fold the flap toward the right side. Press and stitch the flap close to the seamline, then again 1/4″ from the first stitching line.
- If desired, hand-sew one half of a large metal snap to the flap so that it faces the sleeve. Hand-sew the other half to the sleeve to match the mating snap.
Now you can carry your laptop from cafe to cafe in style!
Remaking clothing is nothing new, of course, but a downturn in the economy has generated a surge in creativity. Along comes Jenny Wilding Cardon’s book, ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs, to inspire you more. It’s all about using what you have but no longer want to wear in its current form, or finding things at a thrift store to make your own.
Of the designs in ReSew, we really liked a sweatshirt transformation called the Sleeveless V. Most people know that baggy sweatshirts are not our most flattering look! Trim it up a bit, add some flair, and you’re comfortable and hip! The resulting sweatshirt project in ReSew is truly tiny, but you don’t have to go that far. You can keep a modest shape and instead focus on the embellishments made out of the fabric that you’ve trimmed away — Jenny designed strips into a textured box — and add the suggested kangaroo pocket. For all of the projects in this book, remember to keep the original garment’s tags so you know how to care for the fabrics. Most wool sweaters, for instance, shouldn’t be machine washed or they will shrink.
Moving from the clothing aisles to the home dec aisles of your local thrift store , the Curtain Skirt ends up unrecognizable as curtains because you build in tiers. If you can find the right fabrics to layer, this will look luscious. We suggest natural fabrics instead of the polyester sheers.
The Diner Dress is great if you enjoy fitted dresses. The top (or bodice) is made from one found shirt (make sure it’s the wide enough for you at your skinniest waist measurement because this is where the new skirt attaches). The skirt is made from several more cotton shirts and is attached to the bodice at the high waist.
Some of the accessories projects in ReSew incorporate recycled sweaters. The Elephant Cuddle Cushion is one very cute example that would be fun for a friend’s child (or your child). Note that chunky sweater knits can be difficult to sew together so you might want to choose flatter knits.
Here’s the latest installment in our series to take you from pattern selection to sewing up a pattern. Haven’t got your supplies yet? Check out our Sewing Supplies page.
When cutting out your pattern it is essential to cut the fabric pieces cleanly and accurately. Good tools make the job easier. Scissors (or dressmaker’s shears) are the obvious ones to use, but rotary cutters are becoming more common. Which one should you choose? As in many situations, that depends.
Scissors are more versatile: they can be used to cut out your fabric pattern, to trim excess fabric from seam allowances, and to snip loose threads. They are easier to use when cutting on a curve than a rotary cutter, and most clothing patterns include some curves (since the human body has curves). It does take some skill to use a scissors well, but it’s not that hard to master.
Rotary cutters can be used only to cut fabric and pattern pieces. You must place a cutting mat under the fabric to avoid also damaging your flooring or table as well as the fabric. Most people also use a ruler when using a rotary cutter. So now you have to buy three tools instead of just one. They are most useful for cutting straight lines, as when cutting pieces for quilting. It can be easier to cut several layers of fabric together with a rotary cutter. Beginners may find a rotary cutter fast to use, but experienced sewers cut equally fast with a scissors. Left-handed scissors are available if that’s an issue for you. Gingher left-handed scissors
Our advice is to buy the best fabric shears you can afford, take care of them (use them only for cutting fabric) and have them sharpened regularly, especially if you notice them becoming dull. Ready to get your sewing tools and supplies?
Our Recommended Books are great for beginners too!
Mom deserves the best! Inspire Mom on her day. Use online shopping at our Amazon.com shop to make it easy for you. Does Mom need a sewing machine?
See sewing machine recommendations
Does she need some new ideas on patterns and new ways to use fabric?
Get an inspiring sewing book
Is Mom just starting on her sewing journey? See our short list of recommended beginning sewing supplies.
Or, let her choose her own gift: Shop Amazon – Mother’s Day Gifts
Check out the other features of our site to get Mom inspired.
You have probably seen the displays of cutting tools as you have browsed sewing stores. Do you need scissors, or a rotary cutter? That’s what this article is about. At SewingStarter.com, we believe that sewing doesn’t need to be expensive. If you’re just starting out, you only need a good pair of 8″ fabric shears. There is no need to buy the most expensive pair, but you also probably want to stay away from the cheapest pair. Here’s one we recommend: Fiskars 8″ Softgrip Scissors
Rotary cutters can be helpful as an additional tool, especially for quilters who spend a lot of time cutting strips or squares or the same-size. Long straight lines in garment hems and side seams can also be cut with ease with a rotary cutter. But consider these other things that you will need: You must use a cutting board to avoid cutting into your table, floor or carpet. You will also need to invest in replacement blades occasionally.
And you will still need scissors. That’s why our Supplies List recommends only scissors for the newbie sewer.
Scissors give you the control you need to negotiate the curves which all garment pattern pieces have. You will need scissors to “quick mark” darts and notches. Scissors cut through threads as well as fabric, so they’re handy to keep by your sewing machine. It’s easy to go past your mark with rotary cutters; although this could happen with scissors with scissors, it’s less likely. Scissors will become dull after much use; your local sewing store probably brings in a local sharpener occasionally, or you can ask for referrals. You will come to love your good fabric shears, and they will give you years and years of use.
Here are some tips for cutting out garment patterns:
- You will become a better fabric cutter over time, so go easy on yourself!
- When coming to a right angle, cut past your “intersection,” instead of trying to make a perfect square around your tissue pattern piece.
- Most accurate cuts are produced by using long smooth strokes. But, there’s no need to cut to the very tip of the scissors each cut. You can lift up and continue cutting whenever it’s most comfortable for you.
- Instead of cutting out the “triangles” that you see on pattern tissues, use the very tip of your scissors to snip 1/8 of an inch into the fabric. This technique can also be used to mark darts, sleeve-to-bodice points, etc.
- Since you’re going to sew a seam a distance from the fabric edge, remember that a little glitch in cutting won’t even show on the outside of the garment.
And remember to use your fabric scissors only on tissues and fabric (and the occasional paper pattern) and to keep them where they will not be used as general scissors by the other members of your household. If necessary, use a permanent marker or label maker to mark “Mommy’s sewing scissors” or “Fabric only” on the scissors handle.
var _gaq = _gaq || ; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-30450297-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
Have you joined us on Twitter?
The easiest projects have few pattern pieces. You can see our previous article on Easiest Projects. When in the store, you can open a pattern envelope as long as it isn’t sealed. Look at the pattern layout, found on the instruction sheet. What do you see? Do you see a “Fold” line? Do you see how many pieces are laid out along the fold? How many are small pieces, and where are they placed?
This is a good start, and what follows are further tips on how to get from pattern purchase to laying out your new pattern.
When pinning your pattern pieces, grainline is important. What’s grainline? It’s what determines whether your clothing hangs properly on your body. Here’s how grain works in textiles. Woven fabric is created on a textile loom. Some threads run the width of the fabric; others run the length. Together these thread directions “weave” the cloth.
On cottons and some other wovens, you can determine the grainline of the fabric at home after you have washed and dried the fabric. Snip with your scissors from the selvedge (bound edge) into the cloth about one inch. Then use both hands to rip the fabric from one selvedge to another. Yes, it’s okay to rip! The true grainline is revealed along the rip. (If your fabric has a design, such as flowers, you might be surprised to find that your rip doesn’t follow the design. That’s good to know! It means you cannot rely on the design for the grainline. If you’ve picked a simple pattern, this will not affect the final garment.) You might want to press the edge gently to straighten the rippling.
Pattern tissue pieces can now be laid out on the fabric. Position your pattern layout guide in the same way you have your fabric positioned in front of you. Before you begin pinning, look at your pattern pieces. Do you see an arrow printed near the top to the bottom of the tissue? This is the “grainline arrow.” Set the pattern pieces down according to the layout.
Now take a tape measure and measure the distance from one tip of the arrow to the selvedge. Ensure the entire piece fits on the fabric and not into the selvedge. Pick a distance, and place your first pin somewhere along the top of the grainline arrow. Now measure the same distance for the bottom of the arrow, and pin there. It doesn’t matter what number it is, as long as you pin to the same distance for each arrow point. Now you can continue to pin. After the grainline arrows, pin each corner. Point pins towards the corners of the tissue. After this, the number of pins is up to you. As you learn to cut out pattern pieces with more confidence, you can rely less on pins on more on your non-cutting hand to secure the pieces in place.
We hope you’ve learned a few things about laying out and pinning pattern pieces. In another article, we’ll tackle cutting out your pattern pieces. As a beginning sewer, you can follow these simple steps for a new sewn garment, and you’ll know it’s quick but accurate!